BAWAG Contemporary Vienna presents the first solo exhibition of Scottish artist Katie Paterson in Austria.
Katie Paterson strives to communicate unimaginably large or distant occurrences in nature or the universe, transforming them through the medium of everyday objects or materials and reducing them to a human scale. Her projects make use of sophisticated technologies, from satellites to telescopes, and specialist expertise of a range of scientists to stage intimate, poetic and philosophical engagements with nature, ecology, geology, and cosmology.
This exhibition presents a selection of recent projects including Ancient Darkness TV, 2009, The Dying Star Letters, 2010, 100 Billion Suns, 2011 and Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky, 2012.
The project 100 Billion Suns was first developed for the Venice Biennale in July 2011. The work recreates a history of gamma-ray bursts, the brightest explosions in the universe, which burn 100 billion times brighter than the sun. For this project Paterson created confetti with pieces of paper that she color-matched to each of these cosmic events. Every burst of confetti creates a miniature explosion of all of these vast explosions in just under a second. The confetti canon was set off at regular intervals during the Venice Biennale at a series of unspecified locations, from major piazzas to the smallest back streets. For this presentation the confetti canon will be fired daily at 4 p.m. for the duration of the exhibition.
The Dying Star Letters is a series of letters sent by the artist to communicate the death of a star. To create these letters Paterson received notifications from astronomical institutes each time a star exploded. Upon hearing the news that a star had died, the artist wrote and posted a letter, announcing its death. The letters, either handwritten or typed onto various kinds of paper, in a range of formats, are displayed in a vitrine in the gallery.
Katie Paterson´s Ancient Darkness TV broadcasts darkness from the edge of the universe. To create this work Paterson worked with astronomers from the Keck Observatory, Mauna Kea to transmit an image of ‘ancient darkness’ on a New York television station. Broadcast for one minute, it revealed darkness from the furthest point of the observed universe, 13.2 billion years ago, shortly after the Big Bang and long before the Earth existed, when stars, galaxies, and the first light began to form. The footage is shown on a continual loop in the gallery space.
In Campo del Cielo, Field of the Sky a meteorite which has been travelling through space and time for over four and a half billion years, has been cast, melted, and then re-cast back into a new version of itself, retaining its original form. A newly formed yet still ancient meteorite, imbued with its cosmic history. In years to come, the meteorite will be launched into space.